These days as never before, Americans are inflamed by politics. Radio and television commentators cynically howl out extremist poppycock in order to get attention and the ratings and money that go with them. The print media panders to the powers that be, rehashing press releases instead of doing real reporting.
The result is predictable: people are as overwrought as they are misinformed.
A republic depends on fairness and moderation, which are founded in good information and effective education. But moderation doesn't sell, so you get very little of it anywhere. The more the howling horrors of the left and the right get listened to, the weaker the country becomes, and the less American. Fanaticism is not patriotism. An American patriot is a simple thing: An American patriot upholds the principle that governmental power derives from the consent of the governed, not from the dominion of God or the rights of the worker or the needs of business or whatever else.
Our website, being a public place, is caught up in this storm, too. It is a place of moderation, with no political axe to grind. So the extremists comb through it, trying to pinpoint just the right article, or even sentence in an article, that will enable them to shriek that we're a bunch of commies or fascists whatever.
So, since this is a political year, I thought I'd take some time to talk about this website's political perspective.
Inevitably, in a political year, you will see stories here that relate to political issues. I have no idea, personally, what the politics are of the people who work on the site. In fact, I've never actually met most of them. This is a virtual business in the most profound sense of that word. The people who work at Unknowncountry.com are scattered all over the map. And in any case, I would never ask anybody their politics.
However, our recent stories about the environment and gay marriage, for example, are political stories right now. There's no getting around it. So you deserve to know something about our politics.
We strive to find and report stories that the rest of the media ignores. This is why we reported, for example, on the fact that the Catholic Church had rituals for marriage between men for hundreds of years. It's an insight into the whole gay marriage issue that the rest of the media, in its eagerness to fan the flames, would naturally ignore. But it tells us an important truth: mankind has a long history, and the past often has something to tell us about the present.
Does that mean that Unknowncountry.com is "pro" gay marriage. Not at all. What it means is that we are "pro" looking at present reality through the eyes of history.
Then there was the story that reported on Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s article in the Nation about the present administration's anti-environmental protection policy, and the earlier story about the sixty scientists who condemned the administration for an anti-scientific bias.
These were regarded as political stories by some, and I certainly agree with that. The vast majority of abductees come away from their experiences with warnings about the environment. I am no exception. I have striven for years to make a difference in regard to environmental policy, and the reason is the messages I have received from the visitors about the peril to the environment that we are facing right now.
Art and I wrote Superstorm in response to statements made by the Master of the Key about environmental dangers. We have seen his warning about sudden climate change go from being sneered at by Matt Lauer on the Today Show to becoming scientific holy writ. And now an extraordinary movie, the Day After Tomorrow, based in part on our book, will be released worldwide on May 28.
The Master of the Key spoke softly in a hotel room in the middle of the night, but look where his words have gone. So, I would say that I am in favor of careful environmental husbandry and against ignoring our world's environmental problems.
Because I regard the message of the master as coming from a higher source, I will always put it before any politics. I think that both the conservatives and liberals have failed when it comes to environmental policy. The liberals have tried to use environmental problems to impose social controls that people do not want; the conservatives have reacted by dismantling the regulatory infrastructure that we do have, leaving us open to horrendous environmental damage.
In general, I, personally, am a moderate. Anne is somewhat more conservative than me. I don't know about anybody else who works or volunteers here. I am neither a liberal nor a conservative for the same reason: all ideologues seek to control others, and I don't like control. If I have a personal ideology, it is that the human spirit deserves to be free.
Conservatives want to control our moral life. Liberals want to control our economic life. I don't want to be controlled at all. This doesn't mean that I'm an anarchist. Far from it. The Master of the Key, again, taught a very, very simple but extremely powerful lesson when he said that sin is 'denial of the right to thrive.' Liberals do this when they stifle economic activity with excessive planning and confiscatory taxation; conservatives do it when they impose repressive moral codes as law.
I am not against Bush or for Kerry. Personally, I don't see a presidential candidate that I much like. Certainly, Nader is a joke. Bush has made a devastating error by rejecting science in favor of ideology. Kerry might be somewhat better when it comes to the environment, but he is likely to impose liberal economic theories that have been historical failures.
I wish that there was a candidate out there who wasn't driven by ideology. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Britain, then the world's superpower, was steadily weakened by the lack of a political middle. This is now happening here, and it will have the same result. Unless we can find people capable of governing us from the middle ground, we will be persistently weakened by whipping back and forth between opposed extremes.
So, on balance, you could say that Whitley Strieber is a moderate. I don't take positions on most of the issues that dominate the press, because I believe them to be false issues. I care greatly about the health of the republic. Until it finds a middle ground, though, it will continue to decline as a source of human freedom and happiness based in good government. Extremists of both the left and right can make a lot of noisy promises. But, in the end, ideology is never practical enough. It always fails.
The ancients used to teach "nothing overmuch," and that is good advice today. Competing ideologies of the right and the left take us first too far in one direction, then too far in the other. Wise government is balanced government, and a wise electorate must demand and expect nothing less.
NOTE: This Insight, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.